MANILA – Local businesses will have more opportunities for regional expansion and productivity enhancement through the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Businesses in the Philippines can engage more in intra-regional trade, increase their market access within and outside of ASEAN, and expand their production capacities in the course of the ASEAN integration,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, in a speech read by NEDA Deputy Director-General Emmanuel F. Esguerra at the Gawad Sinop Awarding Ceremonies of Supply Link 2014 on March 27, 2014.

The NEDA official said that the ASEAN region has a large market of approximately 600 million people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$2.2 trillion in 2011 and liberalized tariffs.

“ASEAN is now deemed as an ideal investment site and regional production hub. As the region becomes a more dynamic economic block, it becomes more attractive to the rest of the world as investors are expected to take advantage of economies of scale and the large number of consumers,” said Balisacan.

He added that more opportunities for investors and producers of goods and services are expected due to easier movement of goods, services, investment, capital and labor in the region.

“Also, ASEAN is a major producer of palm products such as rubber, coconut, abaca, pineapple and mango products, and rice,” said Balisacan.

He also cited a report from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) on the trade performance of the ASEAN over the years.

“The USITC noted that the region’s outward orientation in trade and investment has been particularly important in driving its international trade, growth and development,” said Balisacan.

Meanwhile, he also emphasized that the Philippine government has already set its key roadmap strategies towards AEC integration in 2015, all outlined in the Midterm Update of the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.

“These strategies are aimed at building credible institutions, equalizing development opportunities, creating new growth drivers, and accelerating infrastructure development,” said Balisacan.